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  • Pregnancy Symptoms Week 21: Are You Nesting for Your Baby Yet?

    Hooray! You've officially made it past the midway point of your pregnancy!
    by Rachel Perez .
Pregnancy Symptoms Week 21: Are You Nesting for Your Baby Yet?
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You're almost week into the second half of your pregnancy at 21 weeks. Hopefully, you've done your mid-pregnancy scan, and everything is all set. All you need to do is take care of yourself more so that the next few months will be uneventful and free of complications.

    Pregnancy signs Week 21

    At 21 weeks, you may not like the weight gain. But keep in mind that everything that's happening is your body paving the way for your baby to grow healthy. And see the silver lining: you have more huggable curves, luscious, healthy locks, a natural glow, and a new life inside you.

    Depending on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), the typically recommended weight gain during the entire pregnancy is only about 25 to 35 pounds with your unborn baby accounting for 29% of your total weight gain. The rest is increased fluids (blood, amniotic fluid, etc.), your placenta, fat, protein and other nutrient deposits, larger breast tissues, and breast milk.

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    Stay within your recommended weight gain and make those calories count to prevent complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Make sure you protect yourself from catching any illness. If you're not gaining weight, it can mean your baby isn't getting enough nutrients that he needs.

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    Pregnancy symptoms Week 21

    This is the perfect time to get things done and enjoy it before another wave of pregnancy symptoms arrive by the time you enter the third trimester. Try to get used to dealing with these second-trimester issues as soon as possible.

    Braxton Hicks contraction

    You may start feeling your belly tighten, which is known as Braxton Hicks. It's characterized as mild irregular contractions that help prepare your uterus for delivering your baby. They do not increase in intensity or frequency, unlike true labor contractions.

    Braxton Hicks contractions should not cause much discomfort and will ideally go away as you change positions. If you feel that the contractions are getting stronger and you also feel out of breath after each one, call your doctor as soon as possible.

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    Breast milk leaks

    Your breasts have been preparing for milk production since the beginning of your pregnancy. Depending on your hormones, you may notice a watery, milky fluid leaking from your breasts. Some women encounter this nearer their due date, but it's not alarming for this pregnancy symptom to manifest in the second trimester. Ensure your breasts are well supported now that they're bigger.

    Stretch marks, acne, and other skin issues

    Your tummy expands to accommodate your baby's growth. Your skin also then stretches accordingly, making it more sensitive and causing it to itch as well. Lather up your midsection with moisturizers to prevent itchiness and apply it around your breasts, arms, and thighs (yes, they can grow bigger, too!)

    Moisturizers may also help keep stretch marks at bay although your gene may have more to do with your chances of the getting them or not. Don't worry, stretch marks, if you do get them are permanent, but they do fade or lighten over time. Skin discolorations or darkening of the skin on some body areas should go away and return to the way it was after you give birth.

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    If you're having too oily skin or acne breakouts on your face or other parts of your body, diligent hygiene is the only way to resolve this. Wash your face with a gentle soap and water twice a day. Consult with your doctor first on the skin and anti-acne products you can use that are safe to use for preggos.

    Backaches, hip pain, and round ligament pain

    The increasing levels of the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which loosens your joints to prepare for pregnancy may result in some (okay, a lot) of aches and pain in your hip area, lower belly or groin area (or round ligament pain), and on your lower back. These aches and pains are a result of your growing baby bump, which is changing your body's center of gravity as well as your posture and the way you walk.

    Sleeping on your left side promotes better circulation of newly oxygenated air and pillows can make a huge difference to get you comfy and more shut-eye. Tell your doctor right away if any aches or pains become more intense.

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    Heartburn and indigestion

    The relaxed muscle valve between the stomach and esophagus and your growing uterus pressing on your stomach are to blame for your heartburn. Eat slowly and drink after you've finished your meal. Avoid eating spicy, greasy, and fatty food.

    Bloatedness, burping, and gas

    Expect constipation and to burp and pass gas more frequently. The muscle contractions that usually move food along through the intestines are slower now that you're pregnant. Stay away from foods that produce gas, such as fried foods, broccoli, root crops, and beans.

    Increased bodily fluids

    Since your body is producing and circulating more blood, your increased fluids tend to accumulate in your tissues, which is also the culprit behind increased vaginal discharge, vision problems, varicose veins, swollen ankles, feet, hands, and bleeding gums, as well as stuffy nose and nosebleeds.

    Your baby's development at 21 weeks

    At 21 weeks pregnant, your baby is large as a banana, measuring 10 and a half inches long and weighing about 11 to 12 and a half ounces. He or she has grown big enough that the flutters you've felt in your tummy before have evolved into full-fledged kicks and somersaults. Your baby's movements may not make sleep time easier, so note when he's "awake or asleep," meaning he is less active than usual.  

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    Your little one's head is finally in proportion to his body and limbs, which are more coordinated now. It's also because the neurons between his brain and muscles are now connected and your baby's skeletal framework is far stronger as it developed from cartilage to bone. All of these factors give your baby more control over the movement of her limbs.

    Your baby can already taste your meal by drinking amniotic fluid, too, for nourishment and hydration. He is also manufacturing meconium, the black first poop that you'll see in his diaper. His liver and spleen have also been working hard producing blood cells, and his bone marrow is more mature enough to contribute to the blood production.

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    Your to-do list on Week 21 of your pregnancy

    You're on the second half of your pregnancy at 21 weeks, and it's time to start preparing for the arrival of your baby.

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    Stay on top of your prenatal schedules

    Schedule a congenital anomaly scan (CAS) if you have not had one. CAS is performed between 18 to 22 weeks, and a 2D or 3D scan to check your baby's overall development.

    Your doctor may also schedule you for an oral glucose test. You'll have to down a super sugary drink and have your blood drawn three times at hourly intervals. This will help your doctor check if you're at risk for developing gestational diabetes.

    You should also start discussing birth plans and options with your doctor. You should also scout and sign up for birth and newborn care classes to help prepare for childbirth.

    Get moving and exercise!

    It's not too late. If you haven't done so, try to clock in some exercise. You only need about 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact exercises such as yoga, walking, or swimming, three times a week. As long as your doctor tells you otherwise, pregnancy exercise will be a good idea to help manage your weight gain and prepare your body for childbirth.

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    Set your gender reveal or baby shower

    You've probably caught yourself window shopping for baby stuff more than maternity clothes. Try to hold off shopping for your baby after the baby shower. Put your nesting tendencies to good use by making a baby registry which will be helpful for when you have a gender reveal party or baby shower. While you're at it, you may want to start making a shortlist of baby names.

    Don't stress!

    With a visible and unmistakable baby bump, it may be sinking in with you that you're about to be a mom and a tiny human being will be mostly dependent on you for, say, 18 years or so. Motherhood can be daunting, but you don't have to worry about it. Your life will definitely change a lot but for the better.

    Just enjoy your pregnancy. Flaunt your baby bump and be proud of being able to carry and nurture a life inside you—you'll do just fine when your baby is out. Go on a babymoon but ask your doctor's go-ahead before traveling. Get a prenatal massage.

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    More on your week-by-week pregnancy:

    Pregnancy Symptoms Week 20: Shortness of Breath Begins

    Pregnancy Symptoms Week 22: Say Hello to Bigger Feet (and More Hair)!

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